Acting NHS Confederation chief executive Steve Barnett has been given the post permanently.
The confederation has been searching for a new chief executive since last May when Gill Morgan left to become permanent secretary to the Welsh Assembly.
The appointment comes after a recruiting round last September failed to find a suitable candidate.
The confederation ran another round of interviews earlier this week.
NHS Confederation chairman Bryan Stoten said confederation trustees, along with NHS South West chief executive Sir Ian Carruthers, had interviewed "a number of highly experienced candidates".
"We're delighted to have appointed Steve Barnett to the role. We were delighted to have had such strong interest in the role and a very strong shortlist," he said.
"We agreed Steve has all the qualities and skills that such a complex and high profile job demands.
"It was essential to ensure we took the time to ensure we had the best possible field of candidates and could select an exceptional individual to lead an exceptional organisation."
Mr Barnett said: "I am proud to have been given the opportunity to head an organisation so highly regarded and so instrumental to UK healthcare delivery as the confederation.
"The challenge now is to take the NHS Confederation on to a new level, demonstrating leadership for our members, representing their interests on a national stage and influencing the policy debate about the future of health and social care."
During Mr Barnett's period as acting chief executive, a review of the organisation's future direction was completed.
He will now take forward the outcomes of the review, following agreement on a new governance model.